Having a development server separate from your production server is a great idea. You can make changes without fear of breaking your production system. You can develop and test new features before they’re ready to roll out. And you can try out entirely new ideas without committing to development.

With that, it should be pretty clear that your development server should be as identical as possible to your production environment. It does you no good to write a new feature which leverages FiddlyC 4.2pl64 with QuirkyProc enabled if your production server is designed for and built and upon FiddlyC 3.

Fortunately, this is something which a virtual data center makes really easy. If you’ve based your production server on a template from your catalog, it’s just as easy to create two or three identical VMs based on that template as it is to create one. If you want to try something really new, create a new VM. If it doesn’t work out, tear it down and recover the resources.

You can even clone your current production vApp and servers into a template, if you have space available and can afford the downtime. You’ll need to shut down the vApp, then right-click on it and select “Add to Catalog”. Give it a name, and click OK. This will take some time, depending on how many VMs and how much disk is allocated. Once the process completes, don’t forget to restart your production vApp. But now you’ll be able to create a development environment which is exactly identical (aside from network names and addresses) to the original.